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Three Kings

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Three Kings

Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg
Director: David Russell
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genres: Drama, War

Review by MrBrown
3½ stars out of 4

At the end of the Gulf War, a group of four--_not_ three--American soldiers (George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze) head out to the Iraqi desert to claim millions in stolen Kuwaiti gold as their own. Much like their seemingly simple journey, there is more to _Three_Kings_ than one expects. Writer-director David O. Russell, heretofore best known for the idiosyncratic indies _Spanking_the_Monkey_ and _Flirting_with_Disaster_, establishes a quirky sense of humor in the film's lighthearted early treasure hunting stages, then midway shifts gears into a thoughtful--but never heavyhanded--examination of the post-war plight of the Iraqi people. The shock comes in not the suddenness of the transition but in how the change is barely noticeable. Russell juggles comedy, drama, traditional war and action-adventure movie elements in _Three_Kings_, and their seamless blending makes for a studio picture uncommon in its unique sensibility and personality.

The latter, of course, owes a great debt to the ensemble. As the ringleader of the gang, Major Archie Gates, Clooney is his typically charismatic self, and it's a testament to his costars' work that his formidable screen presence never dominates. Wahlberg and Cube more than hold their own as Sgt. Troy Barlow and Chief Elgin, respectively (even if the latter is saddled with a fairly limited role), and more secondary players like Nora Dunn (as TV reporter Adriana Cruz) and Jamie Kennedy (as the slightly-off soldier Walter Wogeman) are given their share of moments to call their own. But the surprising standout is Jonze, who, in his acting debut, proves to possess talents that go beyond his claim to fame in music video directing. His funny and ultimately moving work as Pvt. Conrad Vig, who intensely admires Troy, is the film's true buried treasure.

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